NABOKV-L post 0006012, Fri, 8 Jun 2001 19:44:28 -0700

Subject
[Fwd: Re: "The Asphalt Jungle" and Lolita]
Date
Body
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Barbara --

Good post and good thoughts on "The Asphalt Jungle" -- that jukebox
scene is
pure Huston, and it's one of my favorites. In fact, I think I noted
some
years ago on this forum, or perhaps in an e-mail to one of the members,
how
Doc's attraction to this young girl reminded me of Lolita. But the
connection with the jukebox eluded me.

Whether it gave Nabokov ideas, I don't know. I'd like to hear what
Alfred
Appel has to say, if he's out there. While the basic plot of "Lolita"
had
been in VN's head for decades by then, and Humbert is a comparatively
younger man than old Doc, it would not surprise to me learn that VN got
the
jukebox detail from Huston.

Rodney Welch
Columbia, SC

> From: "D. Barton Johnson" <chtodel@gte.net>
> Organization: International Nabokov Society
> Reply-To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum <NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU>
> Date: Thu, 7 Jun 2001 10:13:50 -0700
> To: NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU
> Subject: "The Asphalt Jungle" and Lolita
>
> ------------------
>
> 'Doc' Riedenschneider (Sam Jaffe), criminal mastermind and brain behind
> the
> heist in John Huston's 'The Asphalt Jungle' (1950), displays distinctly
> Humbertian tendencies - he has a weakness for teenage girls. Early in
> the
> film we see him distracted by pin-up girls on a calendar, but this small
> detail of characterisation is played out expertly at the end of the film
> when the Doc gets caught by the police because he stays too long in a
> roadside cafe watching a pretty teenager dancing to a jukebox. Although
> he
> is running away with a case full of stolen jewels, the vision of this
> girl
> dancing stops him in his tracks, so much so that he even supplies her
> with a
> pile of nickles to feed into the jukebox so that he can watch her for a
> little bit longer. The parallels with HH feeding nickles into 'gorgeous
> jukeboxes' are marked, but there are also echoes of Lo in this young
> anonymous girl. She is an innocent, totally unaware of the Doc's
> motives,
> and is simply grateful that someone is letting her have some fun. She is
> quite happy to oblige this older man, and has only just been complaining
> to
> her boyfriend that he doesn't know how to give her a good time on a
> date.
> Huston, however, ensures that the audience senses the danger in her
> blindness to the Doc's response to her, whilst the suspense generated by
> the
> tension between these two characters both complements and amplifies the
> overall suspense of the movie. The parallels between the 'Doc' and HH
> are
> overt. The Doc is a European, a German, and like HH, his perversion is
> related to the idea of his being an alien and therefore solitary figure.
> And
> of course, like HH, his weakness leads to his ultimate demise.
>
> I wonder, if VN saw this film (it was nominated for several Oscars in
> 1951),
> whether it gave him a few ideas...
>
> Barbara Wyllie
> bwyllie@ssees.ac.uk